Sheltering Sky, The (1990)

The Sheltering Sky (1990), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.

Shortly after WW2, tourists arrive in French Morocco. Or are they travelers? Tourists go home, travelers might not.

They are a bored, snotty set, with strange affections and odd modern alienations. The first night the husband visits a prostitute in a tent city outside of town and is beaten and robbed. When he gets back to the hotel he suspects his wife of being unfaithful.

The polish wears off as they venture deeper into the Sahara where tourists don't go. Tiny outposts with flies, sandstorms and typhoid. Being sick in such strange places is scary. Maybe with adversity the husband and wife discover they really do love each other? Until death do they part.

Then still deeper into the desert with caravans visiting what seem like lost cities.

It's quite a personal epic, perhaps sometimes opaque as to motivations.

Debra Winger and John Malkovich both do flashes of real nudity. Author Paul Bowles provides narration and has a cameo.

As with The Conformist (1970) and other Bertolucci projects, Vittorio Storaro's cinematography can be gorgeous. Some tremendous landscapes.

Available on DVD, which really doesn't do justice to the imagery. I see a French Blu-ray is available.